After my husband and I got married, one of the first things I did was change his name to “husband” in my phone. I was so excited to be married to him, and every time I saw “husband” pop up on my phone it made me a little giddy. Ten years later my husband still holds this title in my phone. Every once in a while I contemplate changing his contact card back to his name, but I just can’t bring myself to do it. I like this little reminder of our newlywed joy. It was simple. It was pure. It was blissfully naive.
When I look back on our wedding day, I’m struck by our innocence. We had no idea what was coming our way – the good, the bad, the ugly. Yes, we knew that marriage would be a lot of work, but like parenting, you can’t truly understand all that marriage requires until you’re in the trenches. Over the years, we’ve had our fair share of missteps and misunderstandings. Thankfully, these challenges have served as a catalyst for our growth as a couple.
While we’ve learned a lot about marriage during this first decade, I know that our learning is far from complete. But here is my preliminary list of marriage insights I’ve gleaned over the years.
Love is a choice.
Your love will ebb and flow, but that doesn’t mean that your marriage has lost its way. True love isn’t a feeling but a daily decision to stand together and continually spur each other to be the best version of yourselves.
You’re on the same team.
It’s easy to fall into a you verses me mentality, especially when we don’t see eye to eye. Remember that you share the same end goal despite sometimes having different ideas on how to get there.
Keep the spark in your marriage by being playful with each other. Give sloppy kisses in the kitchen, hold hands, leave notes, tease each other. Be intentional about making your spouse feel special.
Go to bed angry.
Contrary to popular advice, sometimes it’s better to resolve conflicts in the morning. A new day often brings renewed perspective, cooler heads and more productive conversation.
Your words matter.
It’s easy to become flippant with our partners. Choose your words carefully, focusing not only on what you say but how you say it.
Build each other up by recognizing talents, accomplishments, personality traits, and little actions that bring joy. Praise each other privately and publicly to nurture an attitude of appreciation.
Have genuine conversations.
Connect with each other by discussing more than the day-to-day minutia. Challenge yourselves to have daily conversations focused on topics other than work, the kids, the house or finances.
After 10 years of marriage, we’re not the same couple that we were on our wedding day. We’re older, a little bit wiser and a lot quicker to say we’re sorry. But I can’t completely discredit the newlywed couple that we were so many years ago. For those two built the foundation we stand on today. They were willing to push through the lows and celebrate the highs to create a relationship of respect, commitment and love. My hope is that 10 years from now I can once again look back and marvel at how much we’ve grown.